Tuesday, December 23, 2008

How Not To Write a Christmas Letter

This time of year, mailboxes everywhere are filling up with letters from our friends and relatives recapping their years. To a parent of a kid with special needs, or any child struggling, or any family struggling, these letters can be as painful and annoying as sciatica. Maybe I should speak only for myself. I find them to occassionally be as painful and annoying as not just sciatica, but as heartburn, canker sores, and blisters.

I should stop here, or at least pause, to say I do share in the victories of my friends and their kids. I guess I have a hard time with the comparison. Were I to write a Christmas letter, this or any year, it comes out sad and tragic and just not right. Perhaps it's just my writing style, or my intense need to be honest (should anyone ever ask me about it later, I need consistency), but I'm just not one of those people who can paint things in a light that is more cheery than things really appear.

My Christmas Letter, had I actually written one this year, would read thusly:

To my dear friends and family,

Here's hoping 2008 really is coming to an end soon, and let's hope and pray for a fabulous 2009. I hope that the celebrations of Christ's birth in your home and community are filled with peace and love, and if you don't believe in Jesus, I hope you have abundant peace and love too.

We've had quite the life changing year this year! The year began and only 5 days in, my mom's eye went out. As you may know, she has been blind in her right eye for the last 7 years, due to a series of retinal detachments. On January 5, her left retina detached and the surgery to repair it ended up permanently damaging the back of her eye, rendering her almost completely blind. I had essentially moved in the day she had surgery, to help her recoup, but then made it permanent somewhere around March, when we knew that her vision would never recover. The rest of the year for her has been spent relearning how to negotiate the world, and with the help of my awesome sisters and my mom's generous friends, she is doing very well. I tell everyone who asks about her, she's exactly the same, her health is still fine, she just can't see you if you sneak into a room.

So, I moved back in to my childhood home. It's a nice home, I have no complaints. My cat certainly likes it more than she liked our old place, there are more windows and hiding places. I've always loved my bedroom, with its south and east facing windows.

The Kid had a comeback this year that would put Shatner to shame. He started the year in the throes of antipsychotic withdrawals, which lasted until the better part of April or May. I got sick of his weight gain, drooling, bedwetting and continued erratic behavior and told his psychiatrist he was going off of the meds. The Kid dropped from 15 mgs of Abilify to none in 9 months, dropped tenex and depakote without much down-titration (and without ill effects really, it's the abilify that was the bitch for him to lick). While going off of the meds, I tried to engage the help of the psychiatric community, but they all told me to put him back on the meds. I went completely against medical advice, and was right. After he had the meds leave his body, he dropped approximately 50 pounds, his violent and aggressive behavior generally stopped, his motor skills improved, he slept through the night, he engaged at home more willingly, he began to participate in academics more fully, he became capable of participating in group activities at school, he could make it through a day, then a week, then a month without aggression, without outward difficult behavior. We fought hard to add occupational therapy and assistive technology to his IEP, and won.

To anyone who has ever poo-pooed mother's intuition: Go suck it, I was right on every single point. Vindication is the word of my year. That, and eyeball.

So, The Kid was officially rediagnosed with Asperger's in April, bringing on the official autism spectrum disorder diagnosis I'd inexplicably put off for several years. With it comes a new slew of therapies that are on the slate for 2009, most notably occupational and vision therapy. He is getting more one on one work at school on social thinking processes, and my approach to helping him has grown in innumerable ways.

This fall he went back to school and has been an absolute success over last year. His problematic behaviors gone, we've been able to concentrate on a number of core issues and challenges, most notably sensory integration, handwriting, reading, and understanding other's social intent. He's making some progress, and our hope is that before the end of the school year, he will move into a less restrictive classroom environment inside of a general educational setting, so that maybe he can meet some kids who live nearby, and maybe he can begin to make some friends. It's exciting, and terrifying.

I spent a great deal of the year in career limbo. My boss quit his job, leaving me alone for a full 9 months before my company realized I was sitting there day after day with little to nothing to do. I've been reassigned and I'm busy and hassled and annoyed again, and with the economy the way it is, I've never been more grateful to say I have a job, even if it annoys the ever-living crap out of me 90% of the time.

Personally I've been in a deep dark hole and for the most part I've been inside my own head so much I barely recognize the outside world. I wouldn't say I was depressed, because I know people who get depressed and I just think I'm chemically incapable of being depressed. God knows I would have refused psychiatric medications anyway. I am held up by my family, my amazing and loving inspriration of a child, my sisters who are my best friends, my best friends who are like sisters (and brothers), and I guess, I world of hope and a deep-seeded belief that I'm at this for one reason or other, which will only be elucidated after a long life. I'm doing okay. You move back into your mom's house at 32 and tell me you would be all, "MY LIFE FUCKING ROCKS! I'M AWESOME!" you know?

Anyway, hope you get some good loot for the holidays, but more importantly, you get the opportunity to tell someone that you love them, and that you have the luck to be told that you are loved back.

Much love,

Friday, December 12, 2008

Actual Music I Have Listened To...

...in preparation for IEP meetings.

I have to psych myself up for school meetings like athletes get ready for the big game. I need to get myself ready with the three basics of IEP preparation: 1. Don't Cry. 2. Kick Ass. 3. Take Names. Oh, and of course, be nice, don't burn bridges, but mostly 1, 2 and 3.

Here's the top five songs I've used to prepare:

1. Army of Me.
"If you complain, one more time, you'll meet an army of me." Simple enough.

2. Lacrymosa.
Get the tears out privately. I nominate this song for the saddest song ever, in latin.

3. Hooker with a Penis
Um, I had to look up this title, and I had no idea this was the name of this song. I know it as the 'Fuck You, Buddy' song, and it's fairly hard for me to believe that the actual name of the song is well, worse than that. Actually it totally changes my concept of the song, and I must state here that this has been my go-to angry song for the last, um 12 years, and I never ever listened to the words, tried to conceive that tool had stories to tell in their songs. But, it totally also totally makes sense. "If I'm the man then your a fucking man as well." Um. That just makes me feel stupid that I never figured that out. I include it, because it's a rocking, ANGRY song. Now, however, I know it's a song about some dude's angry reaction to finding out the painted lady he hired is no lady at all. Ah well.

4. Lessons Learned.
Cheeseball, I need inspiration song. No nominee for best ever anything, unless you count lyrics that speak to me, personally. It is also very hard to find good you tube videos of this song, just so you know.

5. Me Jane.
Dude. This post is making me feel old. This has been my she-power song for 15 years. I swear I do have new songs that I like. I swear! I'm still, um, six months behind being hip! I just can't put any of those songs as my go-to psych up songs yet*.I used to listen to this song to get ready for dates (this may explain why I'm not married). Now I listen to it on my way to talk about my son's special education interventions in the school. I'm also nuts.

*Honorable Mention: Hot Soft Light
Didn't mention this song because it's totally about partying and making out and being stupid and young, so it's not particularly inspiring me for IEP meetings, persay. More of an 'on the way to work' song, for sure. Apparently, I need to rethink my criteria, because I clearly am inspired to talk education by songs about dudes who are really pissed off that their hookers are dudes.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Books About Aspergers and Corresponding Disorders

In response to my last post, Wrong Shoes asked respectfully for a list of the books I've been reading to get up to speed on The Kid's fairly new diagnosis of Aspergers. So, here's a list of resources, some new to me, some long-ago dogeared, that I find to be helpful in teaching me all that I can learn about how perhaps I can tap in to The Kid's brain, and more effectively build a home and school program to help him succeed...

  • The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome by Tony Attwood. This book is the textbook on textbook Aspergers. Lots of info, lots of what to look for, not so much, in my opinion, on what to do. Finding WHAT TO DO is the hardest thing, I think.
  • Kids in the Syndrome Mix by Kutscher, Wolff and Attwood. Hits it right on, that there is this type of kid that bounces from ADHD to Bipolar to Tourettes to LD to Aspergers. The Kid is definitely 'in the mix.' Unfortunately, once you've read Attwood's Asperger's tome, the Papolos's Bipolar "bible", and then Russell Barkley's ADHD books like I have, you've essentially already read this book. I suggest this book for TEACHERS, and for parents new to a diagnosis, or have a child entering school and special ed without a diagnosis, but with a strong sense that their child will be diagnosed with ADHD and the like.
  • Seeing Through New Eyes by Melvin Kaplan. I keep putting this book down before I can get very far. It is about Behavioral Optometry, which is a method of helping The Kid that I am very seriously considering. He was evaluated by a Behavioral OD this fall, and it was clear that The Kid had difficulty tracking an object with his eyes across a field of vision (his eyes jumped, intermittently, rather than smoothly following the object, something which developmentally he should be able to do by 8 years old), and cannot discern depth perception with great accuracy. The conceit of this kind of therapy is that if you repair the ability to see, you will clear up a number of the sensory and attentional difficulties that manifest from problems created by these vision impairments. These are not vision impairments normally caught by your everyday eye doctor, and of course the therapy and the exams are not covered by insurance. I am not a fan of this particular book, although I'm interested in following this course of therapy, because it promises a complete cure to autism, aspergers, ADHD, learning disabilities, etc. That annoys me. I don't get my hopes up anymore.
  • The Out of Sync Child and The Out of Sync Child Has Fun by Carol Kranowitz. The basics on Sensory Integration Dysfunction. The Kid has numerous sensory issues, which I've written about before. Clothes have to be just so, with no tags or fabrics that he might find disturbing. Jeans are out, as are any pants with buttons. Loud, open, cacophonous rooms or venues make him either explode outward or escape inward, either way, unreachable. I could go on and on. I didn't find the former especially helpful for a plan of action, but the latter has lots of fun, sensory-friendly activities and games. We are, and have been, on the waitlist for weekly occupational therapy for months now, and now that we're at this stage, I find it hard to believe that I've waited this long to take this plunge into intensive OT. To any trained eye, it should have been the first thing we did when he was in preschool. Bygones.
  • Saving the best for last, of course. Thinking About Me, Thinking About You by Michelle Garcia Winner. Big fan. I'm a BIG fan of Ms. Winner. Her methods don't work for all kids on the Autism Spectrum, but her brand of teaching social convention is right up my kiddo's alley. I have been pleading for his school to use the Superflex program with him in his 1:1 therapy time, but they haven't done so even though they own the program, mostly in favor of allowing him to perseverate on paper airplanes and the like. Grrr. At any rate, the basic tennet of the Social Thinking programs is that social convention, like everything else we aim to teach children with ASD's, can be broken down and taught. You can be taught that other people are thinking about you as you are acting. You can be taught that other people think differently than you and may or may not expect you to act in certain ways at certain times. You can be taught that there are appropriate situations for certain behaviors, and situations where certain behaviors are never appropriate. Big fan. Huge.

So, to this I add two items, fiction or memoir.

  • I Love You To Pieces. A totally heartbreakingly wonderful book of short stories written by parents of special needs children, organized along a timeline of birth to adulthood, representing the various concerns that come along with each milestone and age in both the lives of the children and parents. Some of the authors' children have autism, some cerebral palsy, some more rare disabilities I'd never heard of before. If you are a parent of a child with special needs, this is inspiring, touching, real. If you have a friend who has a child with special needs and you want to know what the spectrum of emotion they may go through, this book will give you a fairly good idea.
  • Hurry Down Sunshine. I'm not done yet, and technically this book is about schizophrenia, but it's also about a dad and his daughter. I have promised the publisher I'd write a full post about the book once I get it done, so expect that sometime next week.

Now, I know I'm missing many many books here. Most notably, I want to read more books from the perspective of adult aspies, like Look Me in the Eye and some of Jonathan Mooney's books. Any other suggestions?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Internal Debate

Me: I think I'm going to kill Soapy Water.

Me: But you love Soapy Water. You at least have to keep the archives!

Me: But the archives make me want to cringe. All that bloviating about the "idiots" at The Kid's schools, all the "thank God for psychiatric medications..." It's just a big emblem of the wrong path, the lost years...

Me: And yet, that's what got you and The Kid here.

Me: But where are we? Who wants to read about it?

Me: You know people will read it, the people who love you will.

Me: Yeah, we can't all be as famous as Mr. Lady. But the posts aren't coming out any more. I'm too self aware. I've lost that voice, I've certainly lost all semblance of hip-mom that seems to be prerequisite for mom-blogging.

Me: Dude, you were never "hip."

Me: True. But I thought I was. I have lost something. I can't describe it. And I'm suddenly gunshy. I can't be as opinionated as I once was, ever since every assertion I made about The Kid being bipolar turned out to be The Kid reacting poorly to the meds he was on, not at all bipolar.

Me: Yeah, and then the Asperger's Diagnosis.

Me: Autism Spectrum. I'm a newbie. I'm at a loss. I don't know anything, I'm fumbling around in the dark with what to do. And then there's the fear that just because the Asperger's fits today, it all makes some sense, I know in my heart of hearts I made bipolar fit, like a world view to help me fight. What if I'm wrong about this one too?

Me: But you read the books and you see those similarities. Your friends, all their stories. The years where he didn't sleep, even without meds screwing up his circadian rythyms, the hard times with haircuts and dentists, the vocal self-stimulatory behavior, the narrow interests, the hyper-focus, the social stuff, the sensory stuff. And don't forget the approach.

Me: The approach to Asperger's is the thing that makes me confident in his treatment, that's for sure. If the child is acting out, or seeking sensory stimuli, to what aim? What is the root cause of the behavior? Isn't that the best question ever?

Me: It's my favorite. After years and years of "if he's acting out, let's increase his dosage another .5 miligrams." I think you need to leave the old behind and start a new chapter. Part II of sorts, without moving the actual website, or so I hear...

Me: Part II. I guess it's worth a try. I can't promise anything.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


So, this is one for the story books.

The Kid is all shifty eyed and anxious last night. I ask him what he's up to. He flails and avoids me for about an hour. He comes up to me at about 6:30 and says, I can't even tell you what I did. Just go to my room and look in my toybox.

What am I going to find? A severed head? A hideous stain on his nice pants? Something dear to me cut up to pieces? Who knows, but I know one thing. This ain't good, my friends.

I go down and open the toybox. A hideous stench hits me, and there is nothing in the toybox but one of my bigger pyrex bowls, filled with a nasty yellowish water. You know that part in The Shining when he goes into that bathroom and finds the scary dead body in the bathtub? That comes screaming to mind and I freak out and run out of the room and go get him.

WHAT IS THAT? I ask.. He says, look on the bottom. We go back to the toybox, I pick up the bowl gingerly, so as to spill none of this who-knows-what on, well, anything, and lift it up to look at the bottom of the bowl. There is nastiness on the bottom of the bowl, but I still don't know what the frak it is.

WHAT IS THIS, KID? I say with restrained rage, wondering if I now need to worry about him being a sociopath or something. The Kid replies, "You know in Spongebob the movie how they come back to life with water?"

It instantly comes to me. My mom has a propensity towards tchochkes. I HATE them, but there is shit all over this house, loads of nativity scenes (we are sooo catholic), little pottery pieces and vases, bowls with rocks in them, and then there's this one pretty little round glass vase, filled with shells, sand dollars and yes, a starfish. Or rather, there used to be a starfish in that little round vase. The Kid was trying to revive my mom's dried starfish. A dried starfish I have a feeling she picked up decades ago during a family vacation before I was even born. I made him dump the water out and clean the bowl. Nasty nasty nasty. It smelled like, oh, ancient saltwater and rancid liver mixed together or something. We both wretched about 12 times. It was by far, the most disgusting thing I've encountered as a parent, and you have to remember, I'm the mom of the kid who puked almost daily for four years. I'd clean buckets full of vomit before I ever, ever have to encounter re-wetted ancient dried starfish, ever again. Oy.

Oh, and for the record? I have no idea when he performed this operation. I have NO IDEA how long the starfish was in that bowl, in his toybox, in his room. Ew.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Three year blog-aversary

I just passed it last Weds. Remember when I used to be a blogger? As my friend Shannon would say, Bygones.

I can't right now look back on the last three years. It's kind of a painful exercise. We took a wild detour and are just now on the right course again. I wish I could travel back in time and tell my three-years-ago self to check out the things I know now, but that simply can't happen. Let's focus on the here and now.

Um, tomorrow. Tomorrow, I promise. I need to go to bed tonight, and I've promised myself to write again.

Babysteps, people.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Check it.

New masthead! So soapy!

Brought to you by my marvelously talented friend Julie, who has an Etsy site, and I'm anxiously awaiting a link. As soon as I get it, I will share. You want this woman to design your Christmas Cards.

Other blog news, my dear friend Mr. Lady somehow bribed Guy, who runs Alltop, to add me to his autism blogroll. Yeah, we're kind of a big deal.

Edited to add:
Julie's etsy site: http://www.mammakins.etsy.com/
Also, I hope she doesn't mind me saying, she is one of the most inspirational mama's I've ever known. She is full time working mom, a student, a graphic designer, advocate and mama to one of the sweetest little dudes I've ever laid eyes on, who has a gentle loving heart and autism.

Friday, June 27, 2008

I think she might be trying to tell me something...

This is my cat, Daisy.

I really love her. She's soft and cute and she meows and purrs when she comes to tell me to feed her.

However, I'm pretty sure she hates me. She's been trying to leave me hints about her disdain for me for a while now. She never lets me pet her soft fur, she wakes me up before the sun rises by crawling up under my covers and attacking my feet. In fact, she takes her early morning waking duty so seriously, she cut out the competition by chewing through the power cord of my alarm clock. She attacks my feet every time I walk by. She really hates me. I mean look at that picture there. She's thinking about how if she ate my foot I might leave her alone.

And yet, I continue to try. I play with her, I coo at her, I still try to pick her up to revel in her softness.
She clearly decided that subtle hints were no longer working. She's taken to attacking my arms, and I realized today, that perhaps she's trying to carve me a little skin message:

How much do you want to bet the next letter is "U"?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Changing the Byline

I've been wrestling with a decision in regards to this blog. This post has been germinating since April, when The Kid was re-diagnosed: the bipolar diagnosis was dropped, Aspergers was added, and the ADHD, prominent as ever, remained. I've dreamed that this blog is a signpost for some mother, out there in the middle of the night, googling for answers to her questions about her little kid, who can't function in school, who has temper tantrums way beyond what she'd ever expect of a child before she experienced them, and had been given an indication that these troubles with her child were not from shitty parenting, but from something psychiatric, neurological, brain-based. I could never truly be a guide or an expert, but I've hoped to provide a comforting beacon, You aren't alone.

I don't want that beacon to stop shining, but I want so badly to erase The Kid's history of being considered bipolar from the face of the earth. He was so wronged by being given that diagnosis, and the medications that go with it. I want to irradicate the notion that my child was unrecoverable, as conventional wisdom considers bipolar a life-long struggle, one that is viewed by many as only treatable by medication. I took the advice, and gave him the meds, and we started a spiral of violent behavior and school struggle and weight gain, until the pictures I took of The Kid, his face swolen and heavy, his moody depression and way-too-early-cynicism rendered him almost unrecognizable. I couldn't believe this was it, that my boy was this person, was going to remain this person, and was going to grow into the teen and the adult that would constantly bring me trouble: spending too much, drinking or doing drugs, police reports: when I looked to the future, it was bleak.

I finally cocked my guns and went into the psychiatrist and told her I was done with medications. I wanted to see him off of them. It took so long to recover, it got worse before it got better, and if there is one thing I want my beacon to say to the late night googlers: Anti-psychotics cause withdrawals that make the withdraw-er psychotic. Bipolar. It takes months for the effects to go away. So next time you hear of someone crazy who's gone off of their meds recently, keep in mind that this is not necessarily proof that the person really is crazy and needs the medication, but proof that the drug is leaving the body. For us, it took about 45 ugly days from his last dose to see my baby again.

It sounds strange, but the official autism spectrum disorder diagnosis, the Asperger's, was greeted as good news to me. Autism, while horribly disabling and lifelong, comes with strategies we'd not tried before. There is recovery, and recovery that isn't entirely dependent upon medications. I know so many moms of kids with Autism that would think I'm nuts for saying that, but after being where we've been Asperger's is like a big glass of ice water on a hot day: not like we'd never be thirsty again, but refreshing for now.

And so, the byline to this blog is changing. The Kid is not Bipolar. He still hasn't come out of the cookie cutter, but now when I look into the future, it's just as foggy, and I still have concern, but it isn't as bleak.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Atypical Nation: Soapy Water Version

I kind of feel like someone’s dropped by and I have curlers in my hair and my kitchen is a mess. All I’ve had up on this blog for the last month is a quickly written musing about The Kid's lovely nose-picking…

Today, Philip Dawdy of Furious Seasons has linked over to me. Philip is a journalist and mental health advocate who was instrumental in planting the seeds of skepticism in some of the advice I’d been receiving on how to help The Kid with his difficulties in school, primarily in the realm of the medications he was being prescribed, primarily the atypical anti-psychotics.

The Kid took his last dose of Abilify in January. Philip has shared our recent success, and my strong belief that The Kid’s so-called bipolar diagnosis was an effect of medication side effects and bad diagnostics more than actual baseline functioning by him; and a rush to react to his behavior (in school, mostly) rather than find the underlying causes.

The Kid has been doing really well. It took about two months to really lift the fog of rage and aggression at school. At this time I can confidently state that I do not see so-called “mood” issues, and neither does the school.

I am pissed about the damage that has been done to my son over the past two years, the atypical years, and the slew of bad advice that I’ve received since I first went to his pediatrician to tell them about my concerns about his development, his hypersensitivity to sound, environment and food. I am pissed that I am complicit. I am pissed that these years have engendered bad habits in my son, I’m pissed that even though we’ve ironed out this ‘bipolar’ thing that he remains challenged, disabled.

That’s the problem. And I’m scared of being linked to by Philip because many of his readers have grown so skeptical of psychiatry and psychology in general that they find it impossible to believe that any child can be disabled, have developmental delays, have a mental illness. I do not need that wrath right now.

If someone were to spend an afternoon with my son and I, they would see a really extraordinary child, but one who does not fit within anyone’s definition of a typically developed kid. Perhaps we will see further improvement over time as the atypicals slowly leave his fat cells (the last place that I understand they cling to… Which is ironic, because one main side effects of the atypical antipsychotic class of medication is severe weight gain… Talk about poisoning over poisoning, and then making it even harder to get off of these medications), his motor skills might improve, maybe we’ll see his social skills improve too. Only time will tell.

The Kid’s just gone through a new set of assessments, to cement his diagnosis of ADHD, and to further explore where he fits on the Autism spectrum. These things do exist, my son will need special education and constant support for the foreseeable future. I just think there are a lot of very careless practitioners out there, and parents, who are not entirely careless, but instead are overly trusting of these practitioners. I also think doctors would do well to spend more time to listen, truly listen, TRULY LISTEN to parents. I also wish schools didn’t suck so very much, but that’s a post for another day.

Anyway, thanks Philip. Your support has meant a lot to me.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Booger Question

At what age to children normally figure out how to blow their noses? Seriously, I thought The Kid would have this down by 8. Then again, he still hasn't figured out how to fall asleep.

Currently, tissues are used as fluffy, papery finger condoms, all the better for picking the more dastardly boogers from those hard to reach nose crevasses.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

ha ha heh

So, annually, I try to match my bff in birthday posts as her birthday falls just four days after mine. She's much better than I. She could write a birthday post for Pol Pot: she'd tell you about how he actually loved puppies and could make a mean curry and you'd want him to come over for dinner tomorrow, and babysit your kids, and you would so sincerely wish that you had your own friend like Mr. Lady's friend Pol Pot.

I can tell you that I think about Mr. Lady all the time, especially now that she's living so far away from me, and I miss her so sincerely it hurts. Driving to work this morning, I was thinking out the most beautiful post, where I would write about the random ways that I think about Mr. Lady every day, the things I wish I could tell her that would crack her up (and Mas Younon is so right, it's all about her laugh), the ways that she has touched my life and made my life better, well, you'd be sitting in a puddle of your own tears. You would be moved beyond words, the beauty of our friendship would blow you into heaven, you'd reach enlightenment, touch the sublime.

In regards to my literate, touching post, you would ask me,

"Be you an angel?"
And I'd Say, "Nay. I am but woman."

But, this is just a tribute. This is not the greatest birthday post in the world.

Just a matter of opinion.

I love you dude. Happy birthday. Thanks for sticking with me for these years, thanks for holding me up. I can only hope that I return the favor, because I only know the enormous difference you've made in my life.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy National "Make a Real Effort To Listen To The Pogues Day"

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Is it cheesy to say that I hold this day, personally, in high regard?

I mean, how many people have an actually holiday to point to, that is annually a "I will be nostalgic for college today" day?

I'm not so much nostalgic for the life of college, anymore, but I do miss those great people I met over there. I found this the other day:

My friend Dan, me, and Matt, another good friend, outside the Guinness Brewery in Dublin, April of about 1996. Great guys, I've essentially lost touch with both of them, and well, I hope they are doing well. We had good times. Cheers to them, cheers to nostalgia, cheers to Ireland.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

To create a little flower is the labour of ages...

In order to add to the continuing series, "things I've found in my mom's house," I came across this little calendar my sister Peggy made me almost 15 years ago. It was one of those things, made by hand, hitting my tastes right on the nose, loving my quirks and feeding my interests, that only the people who know you inside out can do for you... Well, here are a few pages:

Very few people know me so inside out. And apart from this being a sweet book of William Blake quotes, I have are hard time articulating why I think this truly is the best gift I've ever been given. Finding this again really made me smile. I'm so lucky to have a sister who has given me not only this gift, but the gift of encouragement in following what interests me, above all else. She's always encouraged me, and I think that's the key.
It's just love. Love and love and love. I love that I kept this to find, on my birthday, almost 15 years later.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Total Mysteries

Brought to you by site meter: Why is it that five people, in different places around the US, happened to google "Something in the way he moves me" between 6:42 and 6:53 this evening, bringing them to this site?

Brought to you by AquaNet: Did I actually turn around and play some soccer after taking this picture? Nice hair.

EDIT: Never mind, at least about mystery number one. American Idol, Catherine McPhee, which explains the change in gender in the song. I get it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sorry to the dudes who read this...

When I get an opportunity to talk about breastfeeding, well, I have to take it and run. My bff posted today, a wonderful document to the personalities of her children, that helped determined how long they were on the breast, as opposed to the bottle. And that is entirely true.

My story with The Kid is simple. I made up my mind, I was home for a year with him, and he nursed for 18 months. It was awesome. We suffered through some thrush, I had mastitis that sent me to the emergency room only to learn that ER docs don't know the first thing about breasts, I had a traumatic labor and it took a LOT of effort to get my milk in, and this was done with all of the effort I could muster, I was so devoted to breastfeeding, and once we were in, we were way in. The vast majority of our time nursing was wonderful. It was a bonding experience, it was sweet and loving, it cured boo boos, it helped us sleep, I lost my baby weight quickly. Also, The Kid loved my milk.

My philosophy on nursing is very laissez faire, but I'm not totally cool with 'anything you want to do, that's fine..." I have a major caveat.

I have a friend who had her first baby in August. She wanted to nurse, and she did. Her baby was a total champion nurser, and my friend was a natural (whether she wants to believe it or not). She had family*, though, that bugged her about how gross it was, how annoying it was, how she didn't know if the baby was getting enough--even though her diapers were full--and how generations of kids in this world were just fine getting bottles, why go through all this exhaustion and work just to breastfeed.

This is my beef, and I want to state clearly that this isn't the stance of a militant breastfeeding advocate (against other moms, angry at bottle feeders and Carnation and Nestle), but the stance of a woman who wants a different society. Our culture is sick. I know a lot of moms who would love to have breastfed their kids longer, but because of their jobs, their jobs allowing them time to pump, or access to their babies during the day, they dried up before they were ready to stop. Our culture has sexualized the breast and alienated our normal bodily functions so severely that moms who are demurely breastfeeding in a corner of a restaurant, public library or mall are asked to leave or go into a bath room. We have raised generations of women so disassociated with their own bodies and the purposes of our bodies that we think nursing is 'gross.'

My friends who have had to go back to work, my friends who could not handle a vegan diet to keep their babies from projectile vomiting, my friends (who are also saints) who got pregnant again only a few months after having a baby, I have no qualms.

For women who are so out of touch with their bodies as to be uncomfortable with or grossed out by nursing, I take issue. Think hard about how we got here. Think hard about how long we've had formula. Your boobs, ladies, are designed to lactate. It's only gross if you think your boobs are only for people to oogle.

We are lucky to have formula. It fed The Kid for his first week of life, when I had no colostrom nor milk to give, through a Lact-aid, a kind of "IV drip" tube that you stick on to your nipple, and then allow the baby to latch on. Using that, my milk came in eventually, and we had a long healthy run.

I don't propose to say that The Kid is smarter because we nursed, that also bugs me. I didn't manage to prevent any his disabilities. I do think it should be a preferred practice here, though. And I think our employers, our public establishments, our families and our culture should support women to succeed with breastfeeding.

EDITED TO SAY: Dear Friend of baby born in August: I hope you don't mind me using your family as an example. You know I love love love love your family, but their attitudes were things we discussed, and were an impediment, and caused you stress. It's only an example.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

It's amazing how quickly life can change.

On January 6, my mom had retinal detachment surgery. This was her seventh surgery of this kind, five having been done on her right eye, which was eventually lost completely to blindness. This surgery was successful, but at some point, shortly after the surgery, she told us that everything was dark, that this time was different from all of the other recoveries from this kind of surgery that she's been through, that something was not right. Her gut feeling was right: on the back of her eye, her retina, a blood clot had formed, blew, and has rendered her almost completely blind. She can only see a little bit of periphery, just around the edges of her retina that was not effected by the blood clot.

As a result, The Kid and I are moving in. It's not a hardship to do this, but it is an enormous change. I've been busy getting ready to move, cleaning out spaces in the house to fit my stuff, cleaning out my house to hopefully free myself from the five years of crap I've accumulated in my house. The Kid is having a harder time, struggling with the rules of my home being imposed in the usual lap of luxury that is, by definition, the way a grandmother's home is run.

So, I don't feel like writing much lately. Go figure.

I have, however, had a blast looking through my old stuff, my mom's stuff, my family's stuff. And so, in attempt to get me back to writing more often, as it is a kind of therapuetic thing for me, I want to show you all the stuff I've been finding... It's great fun.

First up?

A Postcard.

I picked this postcard up in a bar in Dublin in 1996. I decided to make this quote my mantra for all of the things I chose to do that year: break up with my boyfriend of 3 years, finish of that second bottle of wine, make out with that British boy at that party in Wales, travel throughout Europe, drink it in, live deep, suck marrow, carpe diem.
12 years in, I not only don't regret a thing, I'm incredibly grateful that I did have a big, wide open life. Because now, I have a small life. Home and hearth, taking care of family. It's what I do now. And like that Italy/Holland poem, it's not a bad place to be, "it's just a different place." I'm glad I've had it both ways.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Still not capable of a real post.

Instead, my pastime. My ever-loving tee vee shows.

And see, there's one, and I know you don't watch it, but you should. Like, seriously. Go rent season one, sit down, and fall in love. Like, I can guarantee you that you will. It's really effing good.

But the show's done for the season, thanks to the writer's strike, kinda, and NBC may just choose to replace the finest hour of television with yet another hour of Deal or No Deal. In other words, it's likely to be cancelling the show altogether, not renewing it for a season 3.

Please watch Friday Night Lights. You can watch it on nbc.com, but if you are just getting started, rent the first season. CAN I SAY THIS ONE MORE TIME: WATCH SEASON ONE OF FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS AND I DARE YOU TO TELL ME IT'S NOT ONE OF THE BEST SHOWS EVER.

Watch it, then sign the petition. Or, take my word for it, sign the damn petition already, and just rent it next weekend.

What Would Riggins Do?  Save Friday Night Lights!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Effectively Nudged.

Okay. So. Um.

The other day my sister told me I needed to update my blog because my last post was just not 'me;' in short, it was overdramatic, it was depressing, it was eeyore. Things have not been good. I do not have time or energy to give an update quite yet, but since Mr. Lady tagged me for a meme that will talk, however obliquely, about how I blog and what I struggle in attempting to write this blog, it's kind of a perfect seque. I'll try to keep out the overdrama and the depress-ment.

How long have you been blogging?

Just under 2.5 years.

What inspired you to start a blog and who are your mentors?

My friend Matt emailed me during the summer of '05 that he was starting a blog about food and wine, which is his thing. This would be my first visit to blogger-based blogs. I didn't read a bunch of them, or even think about writing, until the end of that summer and the shit started to hit the fan with The Kid. His preschool staff said he was too energetic and too hyperactive to fit into preschool anymore, just two weeks before Kindergarten was set to start. I knew I had a battle, I knew my brilliant child was a square peg, and Kindergarten was going to be a circle hole, and I just wanted to diarize it. And so Soapy Water started, during that two week period where I took a lot of time off of work, for the first of many times I found myself without childcare. While my views on what's going on with him have changed STARKLY since this blog began, I'm happy to have the blog to look back on, a document to my work on his behalf. Me (and my family) have been the only consistent thing to stand by The Kid these two and a half years of his very rocky education, and while my conclusions have evolved, the way I approach problems (critically, with much ire), has not changed.

I sent an email sending out the link of my brand spanking new blog to my bff and a few other friends. She wrote me back that she, uh, had been writing one herself for about six months. Here's the link. Go check it out. So, she didn't make me want to have a blog, as I didn't know hers existed until after mine did, but she made me want to write for her. She's the best, yo.

Are you trying to make money online, or just doing it for fun?

Is what I do fun? I think this is the problem lately. I do not make a dime off of this blog. No ads. No point. No traffic.

What 3 things do you love about being online?

1. I have connected with people that I know well, better.
2. I have connected with people that I don't know at all but are similar to me, or have perspectives I wouldn't have known about or considered prior to the blogging.
3. Primal scream. I've written some really angry posts in my day. I've also written thought processes out so that I can sleep at night.

What 3 things do you struggle with online?

1. Actually writing the blog. When life speeds up, and I have more to write about, I tend to post less.
2. Overdocumentation. I know that I am the only person who is actually interested in the ins and outs of everything I think about. In general. In relation to The Kid and The Kid's education, I think I tend to go overboard with details of his school issues, to the point that no one will read this but a person who loves me very much and wants to read our updates, and/or someone who is searching for answers to the same questions I'm asking, or teachers. I think. No one else wants to read about a mentally ill kid. Rarely do people even want to even acknowledge they exist.
3. This is not a fun blog. I used to write about funny stuff, about how The Kid's challenges were beautiful and entertaining somehow. But lately, not so much. Life is heavy, and so are my posts. I want to lighten things up, but I think so seriously, and this subject is so very serious, that the posts end up sad, troubling, troubled.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sunday, January 27, 2008

In real life, I really do say Dude this often.

Question: Gee, Molly, you've been notably absent from the internets lately. I mean, you've been logging in to facebook to play scrabble and whatnot, but no blog posts. What gives?

Answer: Dude. So much is going on. Too much, in fact.

Question: Like what? A fabulous vacation? A new hunky love interest?

Answer: No, dude. It's like I've traveled back in time to that one time The Kid was going to hospital school and my mom had eye surgery. Remember? I'm saying this because these exact things are going on right now. Again.

Question: Dude.

Answer: I know! But, apart from my mom and her retinal detachment (which we believe is going to be fine, she's just not seeing all that well yet, so we've moved house and home and cat over to her house to make her coffee and clean her house and wrestle in her bathroom*), this is all ultimately for good, and will have good results.

Question: So, putting The Kid in the hospital for school is a good thing?

Answer: Absolutely! His school was just about up to their ears in The Kid's horrible, difficult mood that is a direct result of his withdrawal from the biggest mistake I've ever made as a parent, Abilify (a psychiatric drug which is supposed to make children with various psychiatric and developmental disabled diagnoses less self-injurous and labile, but in The Kid did, um, nothing except make him gain 50 pounds). So, he was slowly going off of this med, and believe me he is not a dream to be with those first 7 days after a lower dose, and the school is on their last nerve, and while I agree they had every right to complain, they were kind of out of ideas for new interventions... Or at least, they weren't taking my suggestions and don't want to shell out the money for a 1 to 1 paraeducator for The Kid. Also, the class is too big and the teachers are stressed. Yes, it's all true. However, The Kid was not in the classroom for more than 70% of his days, and I just decided that he needed to finish out his last withdrawal period (HE'S DONE WITH THE ABILIFY!) and he needs to be assessed by the best. We need some new recommendations for helping him with his social skills, we need some new recommendations for how to help him focus when he avoids doing his work (we need to figure out what's going on in head that makes him avoid doing his work, first of all), we need to figure out why he behaves like a holy terror in school but not at home, we need to meet with someone regarding diet and supplements, and/or other alternative therapies (yes, the hospital actually has a clinic specializing in these things ready to meet with us and make recommendations. I may just be gluten free shortly, dude.). Most importantly, we need to see what he's really like without being given atypical anti-psychotics.

Question: Will he look different?

Answer: Well, physically, he's already lost three pounds. I do suspect we'll see different behavior. What it will look like, and how we should deal with it now that I've made my decision regarding certain medications, I do not know.

Question: Anything else going on?

Answer: Not really. I'm taking care of my mom, who rocks, taking care of The Kid, who also rocks, driving a lot (because they moved the hospital 20 miles further from home), which sucks, taking partial FML to do all of this, which also sucks but also, secretly, kind of doesn't suck. Seriously, a 30 hour week is just about ideal for a working mother. I can work, cook AND clean. Anyway, this doesn't leave me much time to do much of anything else, short of scrabble on facebook. Oh, except that I met about 40 other moms like me and I joined a supersecret club, but really that's just my business and not the business of the internets. However, if any of them read this, Hi. I'm so glad I found you.

The End.

*That would be The Kid and I. My mom isn't so much into the wrastling these days. Or any days.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

All you need is an hour and an internet connection!

Please follow this link and watch the Frontline documentary, "The Medicated Child." I offer it without comment. Please do watch it and let me know what you think.

Friday, January 04, 2008

how could so many docs be soo wrong?

Quickly, and from work.

The NY Times has an article up today about how the use of antipsychotics is not proven to reduce irritability and aggressive and violent behavior in people with developmental disabilities and the elderly, as it has been widely, and off-label, prescribed. The study blows up the assumption that these drugs help, at all, not to mention their addition of troublesome side effects such as weight gain, diabetes, tardive dyskenesia. The drugs used in the study were Risperdal and Haldol, but the study concludes that the entire class of anti-psychotics can be brought to the same conclusions.

But the routine prescription of the drugs for aggression, they concluded, “should no longer be regarded as a satisfactory form of care.”

How could so many people get this so horribly wrong? Greed? Why were such studies not conducted before this? Before the Zyprexa lawsuits and my own son's 50 pound weight gain and absolutely no reduction in troublesome behavior? It kind of makes me sick.